Sunday, February 04, 2007

Note keeping

From Chaminade, a school in St Louis I have taken the simplest explanation I could find of a good lab write-up.

I've cut out a few paragraphs where they are clearly practical-specific, but will leave the rest as a reminder of how I plan to structure my thoughts.

1. Title:
The Title of the experiment should describe the experiment in 5 to 7 words so someone searching on the web or looking in a file could know what your lab is about quickly.

2. Purpose:
What is the reason for doing the experiment or what is there to be learned from doing the experiment?

3. Hypothesis:
What "you think" will be the final outcome of the experiment. This is generally based on prior knowledge or observations. In other words, you are not just pulling this "out of thin air"; you have some logical reason for thinking this. If you have no prior knowledge of the concept, you will need to do research before making a hypothesis. Also, explain exactly "why you think this". There is no right or wrong answer. It's strictly what "you think" and "why you think this".

4. Materials:
A list of equipment and supplies that will be needed to complete the lab procedure.

5. Procedure:
The step-by-step process that is followed in carrying out the experiment.

6. Observations:
Scientists record observations in journals or logs. Observations are never destroyed once recorded.
Observations are of two categories:
  • Qualitative: information gathered through the senses such as smell, taste, touch, hear, shape, etc.
  • Quantitative: information gathered due to precise measurements, such as height in cm, width in cm, mass in g, volume in cm3, density in g/cm3, time in seconds, speed in kph, etc.

7. Conclusion:
The conclusion is a written summary of what was actually learned from doing the experiment. The conclusion will either support or reject the proposed hypothesis. The conclusion should consist of at least three paragraphs and be a synopsis of what occurred in the experiment ultimately describing what happened and what you learned. If the conclusion is weak pointless and without understanding, I will assume your lab experience was weak, pointless, and without understanding.

  • Paragraph one of the conclusion:
    In your own words describe the purpose of the experiment. Discuss any new terms that were relevant to understanding and conducting the investigation.
  • Paragraph two of the conclusion:
    Restate your hypothesis and your reasoning for this prediction. Summarize the lab procedure. Explain the setup of the lab, control/variable, etc. Describe safety precautions.
  • Paragraph three of the conclusion
    Describe the outcome of the experiment and how it relates to your hypothesis (supports or rejects).
    Refer to your data tables, graphs, etc. in assessing the data because actual data from your observations is a "must" in forming a conclusion.
    From your analysis, point out certain trends or patterns that support your conclusion.
    In conclusion, explain exactly what was/was not accomplished or learned from doing the lab.
    Give a detailed description of how you were able to determine the above.
    Were there any hidden variables that may have affected the reliability of the data ... explain?


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